Observations from a communications industry insider

Jeff Barak

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Top Stories by Jeff Barak

Announcing another free Wi-Fi service for a New York neighborhood recently, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made an interesting point: “Keep in mind. Somebody’s got to pay for the Wi-Fi,” the mayor said. “The question is, who?” In this particular instance, for the Chelsea section of Manhattan, it’s Google footing the bill. According to the New York Times’ Patrick McGeehan, Google has invested about $75,000 to install the broadest wireless network that is open to the public in any neighborhood in the city. Google aren’t the only Wi-Fi philanthropists active in New York. New York City and AT&T have a five-year initiative to provide free Wi-Fi service at 26 locations in 20 New York City parks across the five boroughs. The free Wi-Fi is available to everyone, and Mayor Bloomberg has promised there will be “no ads from AT&T filling up your browser window.” So why are AT&T an... (more)

Have You Met the Hollywood Superstar Investor?

Looking to pitch your innovative idea to successful high-tech investor (and Hollywood A-list heartthrob) Ashton Kutcher? Don’t bother. If your idea is that good, Kutcher and his partner Guy Oseary, who just happens to be Madonna’s manager, will find you. As Kutcher explained: “We take pitches based on references, usually from founders of companies we’re already working with. The best way to get to us is to build something amazing, grow it and then we’ll find you.” With investments ranging from Skype to Foursquare, Kutcher, in particular, is regarded as the entertainment industry... (more)

Ready? Set…Go! It’s Time to Focus on Small to Medium-Sized Businesses

As the Formula 1 Grand Prix season opened this weekend in Australia, Vodafone announced that it would be ending its sponsorship of the McLaren racing team at the end of the year, leaving McLaren with an annual $75 million hole in its budget for 2014 and onwards. But not for long, it seems – there is already speculation that Mexican service provider Telmex, which sponsors McLaren’s new driver Sergio Perez, could take over Vodafone’s role at the racing team, enabling a pretty seamless transition for McLaren. If only life was as simple for service providers. Like McLaren, they’re a... (more)

Driving at the Speed of 4G

Actually, the only thing 4G won’t accelerate is the driving speed of the LTE-enabled Cadillac, which will hit the market next year in the United States and Canada. In a demo this week in Mobile World Congress’ Connected City in Barcelona, General Motors’ Mark Fry talked me through some of the car’s 4G features. First off, making use of 4G’s superior video-streaming capabilities, with AT&T providing the 4G LTE mobile Internet access, there are four cameras around the car which can send constant updates to your mobile device, showing you exactly what’s happening to your car after ... (more)

The Next Billion-Dollar Business

The launch of AT&T’s home security and monitoring service last week should set the alarm bells ringing for traditional home security suppliers. Initially the Digital Life service is only being rolled out in 15 US markets, but AT&T has big plans for disrupting the $18 billion US home security market. As Glenn Lurie, head of AT&T’s Emerging Devices team, explained to USA Today’s Edward C. Baig: “We want to make this our next billion dollar business.” AT&T is not the first service provider to enter this market in North America  – Comcast has its Xfinity Home monitoring service and ... (more)